Walter had been depressed for a long time, he said, and when he finally decided to identify publicly as female, his depression waned. Though he did not have gender reassignment surgery, he began introducing himself as Wynonna in public.
Most people might call Wynonna a transgender woman. The DSM, until last week at least, categorized him as having Gender Identity Disorder, a mental illness. If the court sided with Kelsey, that categorization could separate Wynonna permanently from her only child.
While the DSM’s text is introduced with a caveat that it’s only to be used for clinical, educational, and research purposes, the book has another key application: It’s often used as a way to make decisions within governing bodies, in court, and in the criminal justice system. A 2011 paper by Dr. Ralph Slovenko, a professor emeritus of law and psychiatry at Detroit’s Wayne State University, found that the DSM had been cited in some 5,500 court opinions and 320 pieces of legislation.